Cycling: Pursuit team fall to Aussies on GB's mixed day in Minsk

 

Minsk

British Cycling has become accustomed to gold at major events but there was a distinctly silver and bronze hue to the first day of action at the Track Cycling World Championships here in the Belarusian capital.

The team pursuit line-up that won the Olympic title in London last summer has had something of a facelift, with Andy Tennant, who agonisingly missed the cut for the Games at the final hour, and Sam Harrison slotting in.

But despite the change of quartet, Britain's pursuiters had become accustomed to edging the Australians when the Ashes battle of the track most mattered.

The two nations have so often been divided by fractions of a second in the past but the four-second deficit to the Aussies on the line showed the current gulf in class between the two teams.

The extent of Australia's win was all the more impressive considering they rode the final six laps with just three men when Glenn O'Shea peeled off the back.

The coaches will not be unduly concerned by silver in what is something of a transition season in the wake of London 2012 particularly as, until recently, Ed Clancy, the most experienced and effectively leader of the British contingent, had temporarily turned his attention to the team sprint.As the clock and the laps ticked on at the Minsk Arena, the Brits looked more and more ragged while the Australians were increasingly smooth and fluent, sensing that victory was on the cards.

Afterwards Clancy said: "It's hard to lose to the Aussies but we'd rather win the Olympics and the Worlds last year and finish second here. It's disappointing but if we don't look at it black and white then there's a lot of positives."

Despite the lack of gold, there was a notable sense of good cheer about the British camp as two of six World Championship debutants took to the track. Vicky Williamson was the first in the women's team sprint. A former athlete, who only turned to cycling at the age of 15 at the behest of her athletics coach, she was only brought in two weeks ago for Jess Varnish, who was forced to pull out with a back injury.

In the lead-out role, Williamson, who came on to British Cycling's radar through their talent-scouting scheme called Girls4Gold, lacked the explosive power of Becky James, who clocked the fastest lap of the entire field of 14.134 seconds.

The pair were surprised to qualify for the bronze medal ride-off against the Australian duo of Kaarle McCulloch and Stephanie Morton, using an innovative ploy which sprint coach Iain Dyer admitted they had copied from an ex-Lithuanian pairing in the event but only tried for the first time in their final UK training session.

In both qualifying and the ride for a medal, James pulled up the wooden banking behind lead-out rider Williamson, enabling James to give herself sufficient speed and momentum for the sprint to the line.

James, whose boyfriend is the Wales wing George North, described herself as "gobsmacked" with the result. "It was a shock to both of us," she said. "It just worked out today."

The medal was particularly sweet for James, who has suffered a series of setbacks, including appendicitis in her bid to achieve her obvious potential. She added: "Last year was the hardest year for me. Just to come away with a medal on the first day... everything is a bonus from now on."

James will compete in the 500m time trial as well as the individual sprint and keirin, and Dyer described her as "in the form of her life" and a potential star of the Championships.

Kiam Emadi came agonisingly close to picking up a medal in his first ever event at world-championship level in the men's kilometre time trial, clocking the second quickest time of his nascent career, the previous best coming at altitude in Colombia.

The 20-year-old will be able to make amends today in the men's sprint in which he takes the place vacated by Sir Chris Hoy from the London 2012 line-up as man three.

However, Emadi, tipped as the new British star of track cycling, distanced himself with comparisons with the six-time Olympic champion. "I appreciate comparisons with Chris Hoy but there is a long way to go," he said. "He is a role model and I'll see what I can do – but give me time."

 

Get Adobe Flash player

 



Armstrong won't talk to doping body

Lance Armstrong will not conduct an interview with the United States Anti-Doping Agency under oath to reveal all he knows about doping in cycling. USADA officials told Armstrong he must speak to them by Last Wednesday if he wanted to reduce his lifetime ban from sports, but after more than two months of negotiations, Armstrong's lawyer Tim Herman said the disgraced cyclist will not take part in a process designed "only to demonise selected individuals".

Arts and Entertainment
Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones
tvSeries 5, Episode 3 review
News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence